Day 200, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 6-Half-way There
Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Weather: Squalls to Sunshine, 73 degrees F; Winds N’ly 10-15
Latitude: 26 41.628 N
Longitude: 072 41.291 W
Miles Traveled: 658
Miles to Go: 532
Location: Passage from Puerto Rico to Mainland USA

This morning we passed the half-way mark which is good, but if this weather doesn’t improve it is going to be a tiresome 500+ miles. In the last 24 hours we have had winds from every northerly direction from NW to NE and now back to N. In all of these cases we are beating into the wind and waves that have now built to over 2 meters, but N and NE are much better than NW and right now we have N. So we’ll take it. Of course, what choice do we have? We had a stormy night but the squalls weren’t too bad and early morning was totally overcast and gray. After 30 hours of straight motoring, we were able to turn off the engine this morning at 9 am and we have been sailing since. It is lumpy ride, but doable. We tried for four straight days to get logged into Herb Hilgenberg’s Southbound II weather net, but with no success. Evidently he cannot hear us. And today we thought we would just listen in but propagation was so bad for everyone that he had to move to another frequency and we couldn’t hear him at all So we are going on what our GRIBs show us. It looks like there are some nasty winds up near the Outer Banks and further north and that must be what is kicky up these seas. Things should settle down a bit by Saturday, but then we’ll probably have no wind at all. I think this is going to be a no-win passage for us except for that glorious first day. And tomorrow is Friday the 13th. I don’t even want to think about that.

Last night we had a little hitchhiker spend the night with us. Just at dusk, two small land birds that had obviously been blown out here (maybe some type of wren) starting circling the boat. One of them flew right into the cockpit and landed on one of the wenches on the forward dash. She let me pick her up and put her in a plastic bucket on the floor where I figured she could spend the night. But her companion came close and she flew off. When she returned she flew right into the main cabin and plopped herself on the v-berth floor. I picked her up again, carried her to the cockpit, and put her back in the yellow bucket. She stayed for quite some time, but then she flew off. Her companion kept landing on the life lines and getting blown off and I think she needed to have a talk with him. Then when I came on watch at 10:30 pm I found her perched on one of the lines coming into the cockpit with her head tucked in sound asleep. Mark had not seen her, so I don’t know how long she had been there. So that she wouldn’t be accidentally crushed, I put her back in the bucket and she spent the night there. She slept until Mark got up at 8 am before she flew off. Little birds like that amaze me. They weigh nothing at all and still they survive flying for hundreds of miles in strong winds.

We also had a little medical scare last night. When I got up at 10:30 pm Mark said that no fluids had passed through the catheter tube for the last hour and a half. We’re out here all alone, no radio net, no SAT phone, with only our trusty HAM radio for communication. We figured either Mark’s body was not producing fluid or something was wrong with the catheter. It was like there was an airlock in the tubing, so we got out a large syringe, took the tubing out of the bag, and used it like you would if you were siphoning gasoline. It worked for a couple of minutes and then stopped again. We figured maybe there was just no more fluid to pass through for a bit, so I went on watch and Mark went to sleep. I went down two hours later to check and it was working fine, but I must admit that I’ll be greatly relieved to be on land and closer to medical care until Mark gets his plumbing problems solved!

Neither of us has done anything but read now for a couple of days. The ride is too rough to move about easily so we are devouring “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” series. I can’t even work on my computer in the cockpit as I normally do as we have a fine salt water spray in the air much of the time. This IBM ThinkPad is now six years old and has been my constant companion, so I don’t dare expose it to the salty air. And when I try to work below, we are on such a slant that it keeps flying off the table. So I’m not making much progress with photos or presentations from Years 3, 4, 5, and 6. (I’m just a little behind.) I can usually get so much done when we are on passage, but that is not the case this time. Since we will be the Carolinas a couple of weeks before we planned, maybe I can carve out a bit of time each day to do this work. In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on surviving this passage.

Day 201, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 7-Friday the 13th
Day 199, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 5-Sailing, Motoring